Thursday, June 12, 2008

Stand still...and go forward

Having just gotten back from a trip I am noticing how several journeys Moses took in this week's Bible lesson. The story picks up with Moses taking his father-in-laws flock up into the mountains. His mind must have been on spiritual things so that he was drawn to look more closely at the burning bush. That in itself was not an unusual sight, but what arrested thought was that the bush was not consumed by the fire. There must have times in the forty year period when he went from Prince of Egypt to lowly shepherd that it may have seemed that his life had gone up in flames. But God was showing him a new way to look at things. Once he was willing to turn aside and look, he was given pretty clear instructions. What he was about to do would not only redeem his own life, he would take all of the children of Israel with him.

Having accomplished Part One, with the whole nation following him, he walked away from civilization and into the wilderness. And I thought these luggage restrictions were a new thing. They basically could only take what they could carry as well. Moses even had the most advanced GPS system ever, a serious pillar of fire right in front of them leading the way. Just try and get lost. Isn't it typical that whenever we venture out on some new thing that a whole army of negative thoughts pursue us, some trying to make us change our mind, some predicting disaster, all wanting to force us to stay where we were. Moses was given the answer for that as well. All they had to do was stand still, unafraid, and watch God do His thing. They would be able to pass through on dry ground...but they also had to be willing to go forward! He opened the way through the Red Sea but He didn't push them along, they had to go, step by step, in faith. Pretty scary stuff. What if the walls didn't hold? What is the Egyptians caught up with them? Maybe it was better not to try this.

But on they went and the journey continued. Now it became a question of supply. No one had brought much with them and money would have been useless anyway. No shopping malls for clothes, no grocery stores, no place to plug into the internet, no entertainment. Can't you just picture the teenagers complaining? they were given the gift of time to focus on God, to get reaquainted with Him and their own religion. They learned to shed all the 'stuff' from Egypt, to slowly forget that life and those gods. Meanwhile God provided daily meat, bread and water. But it was quail and manna. Gourmet fare. Their clothing did not wear out, even their shoes held up after 40 years of walking. At the age of 120, Moses could see without glasses and was strong and vigorous. We can surely get through our own vacation this summer with grace and without exhaustion.

God is with us every step of our journey. No matter where it takes us. No matter how long it takes. Right beside us, a tangible guide. Wonderful things can be revealed in a wilderness experience. Those were highlights for Jesus and for Paul. As you make plans to go across the country or across the street, look deeply into this week's lesson and see some of the steps it shows. Stand still...and go forward.

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